Friday Flash Fiction 575 – Bonfire

I walked down the hill to Tuckton Village and passed boarded up shops; as I rounded the bend I saw the guards at the bridge over the River Stour turning people away; it was true, we still had twelve hours before we left the European Union, but Remainer movement was restricted more each day. There was still a chance; I slipped past the ruins of Tuckton Tea Gardens and joined a straggle of people wandering aimlessly, their eyes darting to the river. One man suddenly dashed to an empty boat, struggling to untie the mooring, a shot rang out and the rest of us dived for cover. Round the bend we kept to the trees, it was quiet, we all had the same goal.
‘Fifteen pounds each, this is my last trip!’ whispered the Wick ferryman.
I was the last to squeeze on board, we lay low in the water. I proffered two notes, my last cash now the dispensers were gone. I doubted I would need them; no annual literary dinner now all the Christchurch hotels were commandeered; our writers’ group was unlikely to last another four weeks. As we landed across the river I scrambled to get off, whilst others struggled to get on. They looked desperate, carrying as many belongings as possible, waving wads of money; the only words on their lips ‘Isle of Wight’. I watched as the little boat set off down river, things were worse than I thought. My fears were confirmed when I heard the bell of the Priory tolling. Many people were still around, madness in the air; we surged towards the high street and saw a spiral of smoke rising up.

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Brexit Extreme had grown in power, disconcerting the respectable conservative Brexiteers, confounding the confused abstainers and putting terror in the hearts of Remainers. Hiding amongst the crowds, I made my way towards a bonfire in the centre of the road. The rabble were rushing out of the Regent Centre tossing paintings on the fire. Outside the tourist office a guard urged people to destroy the seditious pamphlets inside. As I edged along the pavement towards the library, guards and civilians came out carrying piles of books, throwing them gleefully on to the blaze. Anything that smacked of elitism or liberalism was being destroyed. I looked up, from an open window fluttered white sheets of paper, the precious work of our writers’ group. I tried to catch them.
A guard spoke gruffly to me ‘You don’t belong to the writers’ group do you?’
‘No, No of course not’ I stuttered, moving on.
Someone fleeing from the library, shielding their eyes from the glare, shouted to me.
‘Aren’t you from the writers’ group?’
‘No, you must be thinking of someone else.’
I tucked my blue scarf with its gold stars deeper under my collar and fled into Saxon Square away from the heat; coming towards me were two members of my writing group; I put my collar up, turned and slipped back into the crowds. I heard a cheer go up, someone was coming out of the Regent Centre carrying aloft the Wooden Quill Poetry Award; he tossed it into the flames. I patted my pocket, inside was the memory stick with all my writing on; was I too late to get to the Isle of Wight?

 

A second anthology from the author of Dark and Milk; some tales are light, others very dark and you will not know which are which until it is too late! Visit places you may or may not find on a map, discover the Hambourne Chronicles and meet people who may not be what they seem.

Silly Saturday – How To Cheat at Being a World Leader

Be ambitious, if there is a local vacancy for a new minister, because one has resigned or been sent to prison or even if Prime Minister is up for grabs, what’s to stop you having a go? You know how to run the country because you have been telling your family, colleagues and everyone down at The Red Lion for years how it should be done. That’s the simple part, now all you need to learn is how to act in public.

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1 What to wear If you are a chap this is easy, a suit and tie. You must either look smart or intentionally scruffy with shirt untucked and hair uncombed; a third option is smart casual, take your jacket off and roll up your sleeves to show you mean business.

Ladies, I’m afraid you can’t win; everyone is looking to see what you wear and whatever you wear will be criticised. The trick is to appear confident and wear red. Also choose attire that will not encumber you walking, standing or sitting (see no. 2 ). The comfort rule does not apply to shoes, do not wear trainers. Slip your feet into the most lethal heels you can walk in.

Handy Tip.  If you identify as transgender you can wear whatever you like and nobody will dare criticize you for fear of being called transphobic.

2 How To Walk This is even harder than when you were a baby. You must be able to stride confidently, head in the air without tripping over cameramen, protesters, or paving stones, while at the same time giving intelligent answers to idiotic questions from reporters who are two feet taller or shorter than you. Can you also descend a flight of worn stone steps at a smart trot or get in the back seat of the right ministerial car? Good, but your ordeal is not over  yet…

3 Leisure Time  There is no such thing as me time now you are in the public eye. Prepare to be filmed leaving home in your jogging shorts and returning in your sweaty leggings and T shirt. If you are really unlucky you will be accosted by that television presenter who runs marathons; try to talk and breathe at the same time as she runs alongside you and asks about policies. Avoid the path beside the lake in case you fall in.

4 Caring for the Environment Learn to ride a bike and practise mounting and dismounting while negotiating a crowd of amused observers.

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5 Make your country proud of you.  Finally you have made it to the International Summit in A Nother country and the whole world is watching you. This is not like your holiday flight, there will be no jetty attached to your aeroplane; the door will open to bright sunshine or driving rain and an impossibly steep set of stairs; pause at the top of these to work out your choreography. Wave and smile then descend without falling or gouging your eye out on the huge umbrella being held to shield you from the sun or rain. Behind you will be someone very important in your life. See no. 6

6 Choose a Partner For the ceremonial bits it is polite to have a spouse who can engage in conversation with other world leaders while you are talking to their spouses, they will also need to know how to use the right cutlery at the inevitable dinner.

7 The Speech This is what it’s all about so don’t leave it till the last moment. It is okay to read from your notes, as long as they are not written on a paper napkin.

Handy hints: Remember which country you’re in, the name of their leader and why you are there. Recall happy historical links and if there aren’t any talk optimistically of future happy links. And finally, do you recall those ‘friends’ you met on holiday? Do not issue any invitations to visit that you may regret later.

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sunshine-blogger

 

Cause Without a Rebel

Cyberspouse says he will put on my gravestone…

‘She voted to Remain, but now she has Exit.’

In a previous incarnation, new in the area, making friends with a mother who had a little boy the same age as mine, she mentioned her husband was always out at meetings because he was on the local council. Which party? I innocently asked. Conservative she replied, shocked that I would need to ask. I have never aligned myself to any political party; I always vote, but I’m often still trying to decide who for on the walk to the polling station. Will my vote be wasted on the Too Good to be True party, should I vote for the independent candidate or for Big Party B to stop Safe Seat Party A getting in?

A referendum on leaving the European Union was talked about for so long I didn’t think it would really happen. Then suddenly it was happening so fast that nobody was ready and there certainly was not a plan for leaving. But this time I knew for sure what I would vote – Remain. I have never run a business, been a farmer or a fisherman and was not qualified to hand out my informed opinions, but I still knew I was right!

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We were never very good at being European, we never had EU flags fluttering proudly on all our buildings, many of us don’t bother to learn anyone else’s language, not all ex pats integrate.  But a straw poll of our immediate family adds up to fifteen different EU countries visited, often numerous times. Over the years journeys have ranged from school trips to Euro Disney, charity, visiting friends, holidays, training and work; so we and many other families are European in mindset and in DNA. Britons are also inclusive, even people who have never left these shores will be working, travelling and socialising with people from all over Europe and the rest of the world. No country is perfect but why would we dump friendships with some of the most civilised countries in the world and pal up with regimes that are at best undemocratic, and at worst evil? The sharing of defence, policing, science, environmental issues, industry, the arts and humane standards has developed over the decades, hand in hand with the promotion of peace.

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If I had known we would lose the referendum, I would have been blogging and Facebooking  frantically back in 2016…  even if no one was listening. If nothing else the whole Brexit fiasco has been such a waste of time and money when the planet needs saving and world problems sorting. Could it all have been avoided?

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Have we all been riven apart? Families, friends, couples did vote differently, I don’t personally know of enduring feuds, perhaps we’re all united in our disgust at the behaviour and disloyalty of politicians to each other and their country. The Leavers had many different reasons. People did rightly feel forgotten by the government and saw it as their chance to be heard, others read the ‘wrong newspaper’ or ‘believed the lies’– but plenty of Leavers are intelligent and genuine and if they have any regrets it is over the way it has been handled, not because they admit to being wrong in the first place!

What happens next? I have no idea…

Friday Flash Fiction – One Fifty

The Diary

JD turned on his reading lamp and checked his diary.

Tuesday: meeting with the PM and Chief of Staff, 1400hrs Downing St.

Wednesday evening: banquet at Buck Palace, state visit.

Friday evening: with wife to Chequers, informal working weekend.

He stretched his legs out towards the fire; this was his favourite room in the house, his study, his den.

A sharp rap at the door irritated him as his wife entered without invitation. Her febrile state suggested important news, but he couldn’t rouse himself to give his undivided attention to what she was saying.

‘You’re not reading those old diaries again? I can’t see you ever starting that autobiography.’

He pretended not to hear.

‘Don’t forget we’re going to Waitrose tomorrow, shall we buy the beef there or at the butchers? We could have morning coffee, or would you rather try the new café at the garden centre?’

He sighed heavily.